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Ducks' Quacks

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Flash
63636.  Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:34 am Reply with quote

I like this idea: we give each panellist a widely-disseminated but untrue trivia factoid in a sealed envelope, and they have to try to sneak it into the discussion without being challenged. If another panellist catches them at it they hit their buzzer which, for this week, will be the same for everybody: a duck quacking with lots of echo added by the sound guys.

This gives us a way into duckspeak as well.

So need the four most egregious examples of ducks' quack factoids we can think of. Contributions, please.

 
Flash
63637.  Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:41 am Reply with quote

Bumble bees contravene the laws of aerodynamics

Charles Manson auditioned for the Monkees (or is this too dated? Molly, James, as the youngsters on the team, do you think your contemporaries would know who Manson was? Or the Monkees, for that matter?)

Folk etymologies: Posh, Tip

 
eggshaped
63639.  Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:58 am Reply with quote

What about Daddy Long Legs being the most venomous spiders, Catherine the Great's death, dropping a penny from the Empire State Building.

I know who Charles Manson is, and who the Monkees are - but I've never heard that myth. The contemporary version I guess is that Marilyn Manson was in "The Wonder Years".

Are we going to try to help them by including similar subjects in the show? It might be hard to shoehorn the bumblebee fact in a show whose questions are all about depression or didgeridoos.

 
Flash
63646.  Tue Apr 04, 2006 8:13 am Reply with quote

Catherine the Great will be a mainstream GI question, I think. The others are just right, though.

I should think that the more difficult it is to stick your fact in the better. On the other hand we could prime Stephen to help them by using the word 'tip' or whatever, so they get an opportunity

 
Gray
63676.  Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:20 am Reply with quote

You only use 10% of your brain.

 
Gray
63677.  Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:20 am Reply with quote

That wasn't a personal comment, by the way...

 
Flash
63679.  Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:29 am Reply with quote

Yes, that's good - in fact I can't understand why we haven't used it before. It'd sit nicely alongside what colour the brain is and what alcohol does to it (I'm coming round to the idea of helping them fit into the overall show).

 
MatC
63706.  Tue Apr 04, 2006 2:21 pm Reply with quote

Ah-ha ...

<<MYTHCONCEPTIONS: UNEMPLOYED BRAINS
by Mat Coward

THE MYTH: We only use ten (or maybe, on a good day, twenty) per cent of the human brain - and we don’t know what the rest of it is for.

THE "TRUTH": The statistic changes, but the principle is universally known, and almost universally accepted. The human brain, we’re told, is possessed of unimaginable potential; if we could only tap its full power, we would at the very least be geniuses - and most likely have control of ESP, telekinesis, teleportation and karaoke. People have believed the 10% story for at least a century, probably as a result of misunderstanding early brain-mapping research. It’s a nice, optimistic idea, really. Sadly, there’s no reason to think it’s true. Brain imaging scans show that almost all of the brain is used during the course of a normal day; different bits for different tasks, as one might expect. If you're still not convinced, why not have the unused 90% of your brain surgically removed, along with your appendix and tonsils, and see how you get on?

SOURCES: Mainly, a well-referenced article, “The Ten-Percent Myth” by Benjamin Radford, in the March/April 1999 _Skeptical Inquirer_, reproduced at CSICOP On-line.

DISCLAIMER: You can’t expect me to get everything right - I only use 80% of my brain - so if you’ve anything to add to this debate, please thought-project it at the FT letters column.

>>

 
Flash
63709.  Tue Apr 04, 2006 2:58 pm Reply with quote

Good. I can't seem to access the source SI article - do I need to? It sounds fairly straightforward.

 
Flash
63713.  Tue Apr 04, 2006 3:34 pm Reply with quote

This might be a nice one to let Alan have. He can produce the statement that lemmings don't really commit suicide, and assert that the notion originated with a Disney wildlife film. Presumably everyone'll either let this go past or say for Pete's sake, everyone knows that - and he can then reveal it to be untrue.

The statement that this notion was invented by a Disney team in the 1958 film White Wilderness is very widespread (including Snopes & Wikipedia), but I have in front of me a British "Children's Encyclopedia" from the 1930s (undated, but it refers to Mussolini in the present tense and in approving terms) edited by Arthur Mee, and its article on lemmings says:

Quote:
Prosperity brings excessive population and threat of starvation for all, so millions of lemmings sally forth to seek an imagined land. They march straight forward, over hill and dell, through gardens, farms, villages, into wells and ponds to poison water and cause typhoid; on and on, lessened by strokes of death from starvation, injury, disease, and a host of animals and birds preying on them; on and on to the sea, then into the water to destruction. Some few lemmings remain behind to repopulate the old haunts, and from these arise stocks which will in turn march to doom. It is sad and terrible, but if the dismal exodus did not occur lemmings would long ago have eaten Europe bare.


So, whatever role they took in popularising the notion, it seems that the Disney team cannot have originated this idea, which was current at least twenty years before they made their film.

It might be quite nice for Alan to be able to trump the wiseacres for once.

Mat, this might make a nice Mythcon for you (two-way street, qv) - debunking the debunk. I've never seen it elsewhere, anyway.

 
Flash
63752.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 3:35 am Reply with quote

What about the bats turning left when they emerge from a cave?
Celery having negative calories?
Charlie Chaplin (or someone) coming 3rd in a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest?
More people being killed by falling coconuts (or donkeys?) than by sharks?

 
MatC
63771.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 5:02 am Reply with quote

Just checked my brains file, Flash - and it’s empty! Hahahahahahahahaha. Ohhhhh dear ... No, but:

The above Mythcon led to quite a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in the letters column, including from Radford himself, and a couple of neuro boys at various seats of earning. I couldn’t possibly attempt to precis, so I’ll give you the FT references (if you haven’t got those issues let me know, and I’ll photocopy them for you): FT149:54-5;
153:52; 155:53; 156:54

Nothing’s ever settled in Mythconia, as you know, but I would say that it would be possible to state that the ten per cent is a myth without fear of serious opposition. Some sources suggest the original claim was ten per cent of a person‘s “potential” - whatever that is - which un-disprovable claim mutated into the more easily challenged ten per cent of brain story.


Here’s the piece cited in the Mythcon above:
Radford


another very good source:
ScientificAmerican

 
MatC
63788.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 6:03 am Reply with quote

Quote:
So, whatever role they took in popularising the notion, it seems that the Disney team cannot have originated this idea, which was current at least twenty years before they made their film.


I’ve got a fair-size file on lemmings, as you’d expect, but I must admit - the idea that it was invented by Walt is new to me. So the double-debunk would crash on the rocks of my ignorance, I’m afraid.

What is interesting, from my cuttings, is that it seems the absolute debunk of the mass suicide came as late as 1998, when the BBC spent months filming lems, and found other explanations for their high death rate. Incidentally, in that cutting a Royal Zoological bloke says the myth was created by “19th century naturalists.”

However, a report in the Independent, 1 June 2000, begins “The rush of lemmings to commit mass suicide, long considered a myth, may have some grounding in truth.” But the same paper in October 2003 has the following headline: “Forget the myths of mass-suicide: lemmings simply fall prey to four killers.”

Various more bits and pieces; let me know if you want photocopies.

 
Flash
63790.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 6:09 am Reply with quote

So much for that idea, then. If you google "lemmings Disney myth", you'll find that it is quite widespread, but of course if you google for something that specific, you'll find it.

Did the 1/6/00 Indie article go on to make a worthwhile case?

 
Gray
63796.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 6:23 am Reply with quote

I suppose you could argue that the myth was invented by Disney, because until they popularized it, it would have been very little known outside zoological circles. They gave the myth its legs by adding images and putting it on TV.

 

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